UK Police trial facial recognition software

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Facial recognition technology has been trialled in Central London in the build-up to Christmas as Police forces in the UK look for ways in which they can combat the soaring crime rate in the country.

The trials took place in London where Metropolitan Police deployed the technology in Soho, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square scanning faces in a bid to locate suspects wanted by the force or the courts.

The operation took place in an overt manner with a visible uniformed and plainclothes police presence as well as posters displayed informing the public of what was taking place.

It is the seventh time the Metropolitan Police, the UK capital’s police force has trialled facial recognition in public, with the technology previously been used at a number of large events, including Notting Hill Carnival in 2016 and 2017, and Remembrance Day services last year.

Cameras which are fixed to lampposts or deployed on vans, use software developed by Japanese firm NEC to measure the structure of passing faces. This scan is then compared to a database of police mugshots.

A match via the software will then prompt officers to examine the individual and decide whether or not to stop them.

Following the completion of the trials, a full evaluation will be conducted to decide on the next steps that will be taken regarding facial recognition.

Ivan Balhatchet, the Met Police’s strategic lead for live facial technology, said: “The Met is currently developing the use of live facial recognition technology and we have committed to ten trials during the coming months. We are now coming to the end of our trials when a full evaluation will be completed.

“We continue to engage with many different stakeholders, some who actively challenge our use of this technology. In order to show transparency and continue constructive debate, we have invited individuals and groups with varying views on our use of facial recognition technology to this deployment.”

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